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Elys Dolan Illustration Essay

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Elys Dolan - Illustrator Featured Books, with extracts, illustrated by Elys Dolan

Steven Seagull Action Hero
Elys Dolan
This very funny picture book works on a number of different levels. Children will love the characters: renegade seagull cop Steve; his sidekick Mac, a goldfish in a bowl (though complete with police badge); Lola the glamorous hippo lifeguard. They'll.
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 3+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 07/04/2016 Info Extract Wishlist Compare price Buy

The Monster from the Blue Planet
Cornelia Funke - illustrated by Elys Dolan
Interest Age 5-8 Zaleb lives on the planet Balbaz. She's fascinated with stories of the little blue planet called Earth and the monsters that live there and goes there to find herself a pet. Izzy, the little girl she captures.
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 15/03/2015 Info Extract Wishlist Compare price Buy

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Weasels - Elys Dolan

Weasels

Find out how the weasels' dastardly plans for world domination are foiled in this hilarious, off-the-wall debut picture book from a shiny new star in the children's book firmament. It's packed with cross-over humour to amuse little kids, and big kids too. The art is stylish yet accessible and full of details for poring over time and time again - there's always a new joke to find! And there are machines, maps and even a laboratory. oh, and lots and lots of weasels. Weasels - what do they do all day? Eat nuts and berries? Frolic in leaves? Lurk in the dark? Argue with squirrels? Hide in their weasel holes? Well, all these are wrong. What they really do is. plot world domination.

Shortlisted for Waterstones Children's Book Prize: Picture Books Category 2014 and Roald Dahl Funny Prize: The Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under 2013.

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Elys Dolan introduces Steven Seagull to illustrator Louisa Kewell

Elys Dolan introduces Steven Seagull to illustrator Louisa Kewell

Since graduating from the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art, Elys Dolan has produced many funny children’s picture books, and her latest, Steven Seagull: Action Hero. promises to be equally hilarious.

Steven, a retired cop, saves Beach City with the help of his sidekick Mac the goldfish. Together the heroes embark on an action-packed adventure involving sharks, hippos and 100% legit ice cream vans.

Where did the idea of a vigilante seagull spring from?

It might be pretty obvious that I’ve seen more than a few action movies, and there’s one particular film star who might have provided some inspiration. The first time the idea for this particular children’s book popped into my mind was whilst I was on holiday in Cornwall. I was walking along the beach with my boyfriend looking at the seagulls and I said as a joke, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a book about a crime-fighting seagull called Steven Seagull Action Hero?’ He looked at me like I was mad and that’s when I knew this was the perfect subject for a picture book.

You have a brilliant sense of humour. What makes you laugh?

Many things make me laugh. The recent debacle about a public vote to name a new navy research vessel ‘Boaty McBoatface’ had me in stitches. Also I think goats and guinea pigs are hilarious.

How does your sense of humour translate into your children’s picture books?

I am a great believer that a child’s sense of humour isn’t any less sophisticated than that of an adult. Children just laugh at different things, even if that thing is simply the word ‘poo’.

It’s very tempting to dumb down the humour in children’s books and write something that comes across as patronising. I will not use a joke that I do not find funny myself. If it’s not good enough for me it’s not good enough for the kids. I also add in jokes for adults too because I do not forget that parents also end up reading my books.

What inspired you to write children’s picture books?

The gift shop at the Tate Gallery. I studied a BA in Fine Art and found out I was actually much more interested in the children’s book section of the gift shop than the art inside the gallery. At that point I decided it was time for a change of career.

At the beginning of an idea what comes first, drawing or writing?

Both together. I find it very hard to separate the two. When I come up with an idea for a book I draw the characters and their setting obsessively in my sketchbooks, then as I go along lines of dialogue and narrative emerge as I go.

What is more fun to illustrate? A hero or a villain?

Both are pretty fun. I do love a really evil villain, the sort with huge underground hideouts and hoards of minions. They seem to have the most fun. But then again I especially like to draw a hero if they’re a bit of an idiot but end up saving the day anyway as if by accident.

I hope you are never forced to choose but…if you were stuck on a desert island and you could only pick one art material to take with you what would you choose?

Now this is tricky because inevitably most art materials need another material to paint or to draw onto. For the sake of argument let’s say this is a desert island where cartridge paper is supplied. Then I would say a Caran D'Ache Supracolour Water Soluble Pencil set of 30. Wait a second; I’m going to need a pencil sharpener too…

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer or illustrator what would that be?

Stick with it. I think there’s something to be said for the 10,000 hours principle, which suggests that it takes that much practice to become proficient at something. If you’re not happy with your work or you’re getting rejections, then put in some more hours and your work will improve.

Thank you Elys for your time and good luck with Steven Seagull.

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WATCH Elys Dolan

Children's Book Author and Illustrator in Cambridge United Kingdom

Elys is an author and illustrator currently living and working in Cambridge. She works predominantly with ink, newfangled digital witchcraft and coloured pencils of which she is the proud owner of 178 but can never seem to find a sharpener. When not doing pictures and making things up Elys enjoys growing cacti, collecting pocket watches and eating excessive amounts of fondant fancies.

ELYS'S PRESENTATIONS

How to make Picture Books BY ELYS DOLAN
@ VOL 2 ON NOV 17, 2015

Author and illustrator Elys Dolan reveals how exactly she goes about creating children’s picture books. With a focus on characters and animals she shows you what the secret ingrediants are to a great picture book story, including how to get copies of your book burned!

ELYS'S RECENT EVENTS

Elys Dolan

Elys Dolan

Elys grew up in a part of Sussex that consists almost entirely of trees and cows and she was named after a department store in Wimbledon. She’s never let either of these things hold her back and Elys recently graduated with distinction from the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. Elys has been awarded second place in the Macmillan Prize and was also shortlisted for the Waterstone’s ‘Picture This’ prize. Elys works predominately with ink, newfangled digital witchcraft and coloured pencils of which she is the proud owner of 178 but can never seem to find a sharpener. Based in Cambridge, when Elys is not drawing she grows cacti, collects pocket watches and spends altogether too much time in the company of other illustrators.

Books by the Illustrator The Doughnut of Doom The Mystery of the Haunted Farm Share this Illustrator Books Authors Useful Info Contact Us

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Frances McKay Illustration

Elys Dolan

Elys is an author and illustrator currently living and working in Cambridge. She works predominated with ink, newfangled digital witchcraft and coloured pencils of which she is the proud owner of 178 but can never seem to find a sharpener. When not doing pictures and making things up Elys enjoys growing cacti, collecting pocket watches and eating excessive amounts of fondant fancies.

In recent times Elys had been awarded 2nd place in the Macmillan Prize, was a finalist in Waterstones Picture This and was shortlisted for the AOI Awards.

Published Publishers
  • Nosy Crow
  • Oxford University Press
  • Barrington Stoke
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Children s Books - Articles - Windows into Illustration: Elys Dolan

Windows into Illustration: Elys Dolan

Elys Dolan’s hugely original and witty debut picture book Weasels was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Book Prize. Here she explains its genesis and her illustration technique.

Weasels came about while I was on the MA in Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. We did a class project where everyone was given a letter of the alphabet to illustrate and I was very disappointed to get W because what can you draw that beginnings with W? If only I'd got T or S or even A! I think we can all agree W is a rubbish letter and there's obviously nothing at all beginning with W that's any good to draw.

So from that I ended up spending the rest of my Masters doing a whole book about weasels plotting world domination. They conduct their dastardly plans in a huge underground base full of high-tech machinery, laboratories and frothy coffees. Disaster strikes when THE MACHINE, the key to their plans, breaks and Weasel leader (who has the personality of Blofeld and the dress sense of Chairman Mao) declares they must find a way to fix it!

I probably watched too many Bond films growing up because we can safely say this book is influenced by those Bond-style villains, but some more mundane influences also crept in. For instance my own time spent in caffeine dependant workplaces definitely comes across in the weasel's love of a good coffee and the deeply unsafe use of a drill occurs more in my everyday life than you'd think.

I always start my work with research. This can range from going out and drawing things in the actual real world for visual reference, or actually doing things to get a feel for the story I'm writing. Here are some of the things I've done in the name of research:

Followed a ferret around for hours (turns out what they do all day isn't plot world domination).

Watched all of the Star Wars films.

Shouted at pigeons.

Got thrown out of the Tate gallery.

Sat in Costa and heroically sampled many iced coffees. I don't like coffee so I AM a hero.

Hid behind a wardrobe in a country house.

Touched things I shouldn't have in the Science Museum.

Once I've collected that valuable stock of information, it's time to actually create the book. I use the research and any doodling I've done to create roughs which are pencil drawings of every single page in the book. After that it's time to employ the illustrator’s most illustrious and time honoured skill; colouring in. I created the full colour artwork for Weasels by tracing my roughs using a light box and coloured pens to create the outline. Then, on a separate piece of paper, I painted the solid colour using ink washes. Once I had my separate outline and ink colour sheets I scanned them into the computer and used digital witchcraft (I think people call it 'photoshop') to layer them up and create the finished artwork.

And there you have it, all my secrets. To be absolutely honest with you I just tend to make books that make me laugh. I'd love to get all super intellectual and talk about the in depth psychology and complex theorem I employed in the making of Weasels but really I just thought the idea of an underground base run by caffeine crazed weasels was a bit of a giggle. I hope you use this precious knowledge for the forces of good and not evil. If you must go down the other route though do it like a megalomaniac weasel, they have all the fun.

Weasels. Elys Dolan, Nosy Crow, 978-0857631992, 32pp, £10.99 hbk

Weasels by Elys Dolan

Weasels by Elys Dolan

If you thought weasels didn't do much except for eating nuts and berries, or hiding in their weasel holes. well, you'd be quite wrong. What they really do is plot world domination - although their dastardly plans don't always quite work out as expected.

This brilliantly entertaining book from Elys Dolan takes inside the weasels' lair, packed with machinery, maps and a top secret laboratory, where powered by biscuits and frothuccinos, the weasels put their plans into action. Each and every beautifully-designed page of this quirky picture book is a delight, from the entertaining endpapers to the busy spreads of the weasels at work, full of funny details to spot that are certain to amuse both children and their parents. A wonderfully humorous debut from an exciting new picture book talent.

Publisher: Nosy Crow

About the author Elys Dolan

Elys Dolan is the author and illustrator of Weasels. Elys grew up in a part of Sussex, England that consists almost entirely of trees and cows and she was named after a department store in Wimbledon, London. She’s never let either of these things hold her back and Elys recently graduated with distinction from the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. In recent time, Elys has been awarded second place in the Macmillan Prize and was also shortlisted for the Waterstone’s ‘Picture This’ prize.Elys works predominately with ink, newfangled digital witchcraft and coloured pencils of which she is the proud owner of 178 but can never seem to find a sharpener. Based in Cambridge, when Elys is not drawing she grows cacti, collects pocket watches and spends altogether too much time in the company of other illustrators.